Land Rover today made official the announcement of an all-new Defender model and also confirmed that it will be available for sale in North America, ending years of speculation about the future of the beloved model. Ever since the first proposal for a Defender replacement – the DC100 concept from 2012 – was panned by Land Rover traditionalists for being inauthentic, the company has been busy reworking the plans to ensure the replacement remains true to the original, albeit in a modern context.
The press release, which was thin on actual details and only confirmed the new Defender will go on sale in 2020 and will be revealed in full during 2019, was accompanied by a full photo set showing a heavily camouflaged four-door Defender (presumably to be branded Defender 110) in both urban and off-road settings. While there are numerous physical and visual disguise elements still applied to critical parts of the vehicles, notably the hood, roof and rear-quarter glass, these photos do confirm a fairly rectangular body shape as well as a rear door-mounted spare tire, indicating a strong connection to the Defender’s past.
Reading beneath the cladding, the pictures reveal a number of clues about what lies beneath. The tall roof most certainly slopes forward to the windshield from about the B-pillar, as on previous Series and Defender models. There also appears to be a more pronounced rolled shoulder at the top of the door line compared to the DC100, tying the modern design to the past. And roof cladding covers what is most likely an alpine window treatment akin to that used on the LR3/LR4, integrated smoothly into the roof panel.
What’s not visible yet obvious is the shape and profile of the hood and grille. We suspect the front clip will carry the traditional flat, pontoon-style fender theme from the bulkhead forward, with a trapezoidal-shaped raised hood above it. We also believe the front fascia will be more vertical than the DC100 model, as its slanted headlights were among the most disliked features of that concept vehicle. Large round headlights can be subtly peeking through their camo wrap.
If, as is widely speculated, it is built on an updated version of the T5 platform that underpinned the LR3/LR4 and first Range Rover Sport, the new Defender would employ a robust “integrated body-frame” construction with steel frame rails, most likely combined with a full aluminum body to save weight. Engines are expected to range from the 2.0-liter Ingenium turbo four-cylinder (including a hybridized version) to the current supercharged V6 for regular production, leaving open the possibility of a supercharged V8 for SVO/SXV special editions in the future.
While Land Rover has yet to confirm the full details of the new Defender’s launch, we would guess the production version will first be shown ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2019 and will make its North American debut in Los Angeles in November.